Knox County Commission will meet electronically at 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, as commissioners huddle at home and try to use Zoom. This should be fun. The Knoxville City Council pulled off a virtual meeting on March 24, but frankly we’re looking at two very different bodies.
I watched as successive commissions tried to get their agenda online while most commissioners preferred the huge notebook binders that sheriff’s deputies delivered on the Friday before the commission’s Monday meetings. With 19 commissioners, the process was environmentally unfriendly and lacked transparency.
The current process is much better. Now everyone can read the proposed agenda and its supporting documents on Friday or over the weekend. And deputies can go chase criminals rather than deliver notebooks.
Which raises the question of agenda item 904 by Commissioners Richie Beeler and Carson Dailey. It presumably puts Knox County squarely in support of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If I were “skyping in,” I’d offer a series of amendments to put Knox County squarely in support of Amendments 1 plus 3-27 and then I’d offer support for the pending amendment that’s been hanging around since the 1970s – the Equal Rights Amendment, which grants women roughly the same status as guns.
Commission chair Hugh Nystrom has said zonings will be deferred until April, and he will put as many resolutions into the “consent agenda” as possible. The consent agenda includes noncontroversial items that are voted on as a group and without debate. Generally, any commissioner can request an item be “removed from consent” which opens the possibility of discussion and amendment. Zoom access will be restricted to commissioners, but CTV will broadcast via Zoom. Public forum will be handled via email.
Nystrom said Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order No. 16 authorizes the commission to meet electronically and defer “non-essential” items to a future meeting.
School board: Meanwhile, the Knox County Board of Education has cancelled its work session scheduled for Wednesday, April 1. All discussion and voting on the April agenda will take place at the BOE’s regular meeting on Wednesday, April 8. The agenda will be published on Thursday, April 2, according to Carly Harrington, KCS director of public affairs.
PBS: The $2 trillion emergency legislation expected to pass the House of Representatives today (3/27) includes $75 million to help public media stations sustain “essential public services” during the coronavirus outbreak. Public television stations have expanded remote learning services for students whose schools have been closed. Pork in this bill? Oink.
Clifford Rodgers is retiring as administrator of elections. He wants his deputy, Chris Davis, to replace him. At $139,709, the job pays more than the salary of elected officials Sherry Witt, Nick McBride and Ed Shouse. Timing? By retiring now, Rodgers’ replacement will be selected by the current five-member election commission. Had Rodgers stayed to oversee the presidential election (new voting machines, potential Russian hackers, etc.), his replacement would have been chosen by a potentially all- or mostly-new election commission. State legislators typically choose election commissioners, and we’ll have a bunch of new ones after November.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of KnoxTNToday.com